Barons ride early momentum to 38-24 win over Eagles

By on January 10, 2018
Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) controls Lance Allen of Manheim Central during their bout at 126 pounds Saturday night in Denver. Gehr went on to record a fall but the Barons earned an eventual 38-24 victory. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) controls Lance Allen of Manheim Central during their bout at 126 pounds Saturday night in Denver. Gehr went on to record a fall but the Barons earned an eventual 38-24 victory. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Manheim Central used early momentum to seize control Saturday night at Cocalico in a non-league battle between the Section One leading Eagles and Barons, who currently sit atop Section Two.

First, Cade Zeamer held on for a 4-2 victory over Cocalico’s Kayde Althouse in a highly-anticipated toss-up match at 120. Then Connor Zeamer overcame a 7-1 hole to clamp the Eagles’ Grant Swann at 132.

Both head coaches were in agreement that early momentum swing was the difference as the Barons went on to hand the Eagles their first loss of the season with an eventual 38-24 verdict before a packed house in Denver.

“It definitely set the tone for the night,” Baron Coach Billy Chamberlain said following the team win. “It just showed the guys we came to wrestle, everyone was ready to pick up the slack and that we were into it. It was a great way to start off the match.”

While the Eagles (4-1 overall) did stay within striking distance throughout the entire match, they never could overcome the slow start.

“Definitely momentum is huge and they started off in a great way,” Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery said of the Barons. “I mean those boys came through for them and they wrestled tough in those matches. We wrestled tough in some matches and not so well in other matches…we needed to have the whole team wrestle tough tonight.”

Central’s Zach Zeamer followed Connor’s big fall at 138 with a 17-0 (4:48) technical fall over Trevor Hale to build a 14-6 advantage for the Barons.

But Cocalico, which got on the board earlier with a Josiah Gehr pin (cradle) over Lance Allen at 126, kept things close. At 145, Seamus Finnegan hit a reversal and two back points in the final 10 seconds to edge Manheim’s Ryan Kreider to cut the deficit to 14-9.

Then after the Barons’ Ryan McKee majored Alex May at 152, Cocalico’s Devin Sensenig came through with another 5-2 victory against Austin Sauder at 160 to pull the Eagles to within six at 18-12.

But as was the case throughout, every time the Eagles got close, the Barons would answer back. Manheim followed Sensenig’s win with a pair of decision victories of their own as Andrew Seigrist shutout Owen Zimmerman, 7-0, at 170 before Garret Fittery held on for an 8-5 win over the Eagles’ Ben Sola at 182 to double the lead to 24-12.

“We knew there would be a lot of swing matches so anything like that makes a difference in the dual meet,” Cocalico’s Fittery said. “The story easily could have been reversed. We didn’t come out on top this time, which is a little frustrating, but credit to them…their whole team wrestled tough.”

With unbeaten Will Betancourt of Manheim waiting at 113, the final bout of the evening, Cocalico was hoping to claim the lead heading into that last bout.

That never happened.

The Eagles did get as close as 27-24 with pins from Ben Fromm (195) and Austin Shaver (285) sandwiching a 7-6 Keegan McCord win over Cocalico’s Joe Bearinger at 220.

However, Central’s Brandon Kheuangthirath pinned Dylan Rapp in 4:55 to clinch it at 106. For good measure, Betancourt then closed out the Baron victory with a 16-0 technical fall (3:37) over the Eagles’ Seth Fritz.

After winning the prestigious Manheim Holiday Tournament, the Barons followed it up with a huge confidence-building victory over one of the top teams in the L-L League.

“It’s a lot of momentum,” Chamberlain said. “We are finally down to weights, we are down to where we feel strong…everybody is coming together and we’re wrestling as a family. Every day is a new challenge and every day is a new challenge to be a champion.”

Cocalico and Manheim Central didn’t wrestle a year ago when the Eagles made the move out of Section Two and into Section One. Both coaches felt it was a good idea to get each other back on the schedule to serve, if nothing else, as a good mid-season measuring stick.

And both were glad they did it.

“I really wanted to wrestle them and I’m glad we did no matter the outcome because cultivating a local rivalry like this is just great for the sport,” Fittery said. “I know the rivalry we have in football and they battle it out, and we need that in wrestling. I just wanted to have a great marquee match for the local people and I think we definitely accomplished that. Obviously we wanted to come out on the winning side but either way I think it was an exciting night.”

Chamberlain agreed.

“This is great, not only for us to be battle tested in the middle of the season but it’s great for the sport,” he said. “They reached out and it was a mutual thing…we really wanted to get together. It’s a way to test yourselves to see where you are at, and it’s also a way to get all of the fans out and just have fun on a Saturday night, like it should be.”

In addition to Saturday’s contest, the Eagles also were in action last Wednesday at home where they earned a big 59-12 victory over visiting Manheim Township in Section One action.

The Eagles got pins from May (152), Sensenig (160). Zimmerman (170), Fromm (195), Fritz (113), Althouse (120) and Finnegan (138) to key the easy win. Gehr added a victory by technical fall at 126.

Up next, Cocalico will now face Penn Manor on the road Wednesday (7 p.m.) in a match that should decide the Section One title. Both the Eagles and Comets head into the match tied atop the standings with perfect 4-0 league marks.

In addition, the Eagles will compete at the Dallastown Duals Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.

One final note, Gehr enters Wednesday’s match at Penn Manor with 97 career wins. He will look to join Fromm Saturday as the fifth wrestler in Cocalico history to reach 100 wins. Fromm, now at 105, collected his 100th last week at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic.

Incidentally, the others already in the 100 Win Club include: Steve Fittery (139); Chong Moua (109); and Troy Burkholder (102).

As for Ephrata, the Mounts were in action last Wednesday at home where they dropped a 78-6 decision to Manheim Central.

In a match that featured just two live bouts and a whopping 12 forfeits (11 from Ephrata), the Barons easily improved to 3-0 in Section Two. Ephrata, which fell to 0-3, earned its lone win on the night with a Josiah Stoltzfus forfeit win at heavyweight.

Up next, Ephrata will host Garden Spot Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Mounts’ lone action for the week ahead.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *